Tag Archives: Brian Keith

David Swift, Man of Many Hats

 

David Swift had notable credits as an animator, director, writer, producer, musician and actor…it’s as if there was nothing he couldn’t do! David started out as an animator for Disney’s early films from Snow White to Peter Pan, but then soon moved over as a writer for a bunch of TV shows like Norby and Mister Peepers and then moved again to directing.David Swift and Pollyanna

As a writer-director he started with a hit right out of the gate when he made the feature films Pollyanna for Disney in 1960 and then followed it up with The Parent Trap in 1961. Both films starred Haley Mills and both are still amazing family films!  According to director David Swift, after looking at 362 girls for the part of Pollyanna, they still did not have anyone to play the part. One day, Walt Disney’s wife Lilly went shopping with Disney studio head Bill Anderson’s wife while they were in London on business. The two ladies saw Hayley Mills in Tiger Bay (1959) and thought she was perfect for the role of Pollyanna. The two men didn’t listen to them, but they were so persistent that the men finally agreed to watch the movie and immediately decided to cast Hayley.David Swift and The Parent Trap

There’s a lot of very fine character actors in these films as well with Jane Wyman, Adolphe Menjou, Nancy Olsen, Karl Malden, Kevin Corcorin and Agnes Moorehead in Pollyanna and Brian Keith, Maureen O’Hara, Charles Ruggles, and Joanna Barnes in The Parent Trap. He has a real talent for putting together very talented casts. He continued this trend with Under the Yum Yum Tree in 1963 with Jack Lemmon, Carol Lynley, Dean Jones, Paul Lynde, Edie Adams, Imogene Coca, and Bill Bixby and with How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying in 1967 with Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee, and Michele Lee.David Swift and Under the Yum Yum TreeThe original Broadway production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” opened at the Forty-sixth Street Theater in New York on October 14, 1961, ran for 1417 performances and won the 1962 Tony Awards for the Best Musical and Book and was nominated for Best Score. Robert Morse (Winner of the 1962 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical), Rudy Vallee, Ruth Kobart and Sammy Smith recreated their stage roles for the movie version.David Swift and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

I also want to mention that he wrote the screenplay for one of my favorite Disney movies of the 70’s…Candleshoe, in 1977 starring Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes, David Niven, and Leo McKern. Interestingly enough, I loved Jodie Foster in this, but she’s the reason he ultimately didn’t direct this film. He developed this project for Disney for several years and was intially set to direct it. However, he felt Jodie Foster (then one of the most popular teenage actresses in the country) was all wrong for the part of Casey and stepped down. I believe he was wrong, as she’s great in this movie.David Swift and Candleshoe

Final of four cinema movies that Jodie Foster made with the Walt Disney Pictures studios during the 1970s. The feature films include Candleshoe (1977),Freaky Friday (1976), One Little Indian (1973) and Napoleon and Samantha (1972). During this period, Foster also made a fifth Disney feature title, but made for television, it being the tele-movie Menace on the Mountain (1970), the first of the 70s era batch.

Stunt Performers for Hooper

 

The film is lightly based on Hal Needham’s (director) experiences as a stuntman, but the film’s main character is modeled after stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker, who just happens to do many of the stunts in the film himself.  This film is also a tribute to Jock Mahoney (who Brian Keith’s character, Jocko Doyle, is modeled after), who really is Sally Field’s stepfather in real life. hooper

The film is also notable for the fact that it inspired a successful television series, The Fall Guy which starred Lee Majors. The show’s theme song’s, “The Unknown Stuntman” lyrics including references to both Reynolds (the star of Hooper) and Farrah Fawcett (who worked with Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds in Cannonball Run), Majors’ ex-wife. hooper-1978 (1)

As a side note, Hal Needham also started using bloopers during the end credits of his films, and this one presented many of the outtakes from several of the stunts. Another “winner of my Best Stunt Awards”, Jackie Chan, saw this technique used when he worked with Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds in Cannonball Run 2 and has used the technique ever since to highlight the stunts by him and the Jackie Chan Stunt Team in his movies. hooper_el_increible_1978_1

In one climactic scene, stuntman A.J. Bakunas jumped from a helicopter at a whopping, world-record-breaking 232 feet onto an air bag. If you take into account that the old-school air bags would lift you 30 feet into the air if not precisely hit, it makes the feat all the more impressive. Hooper was directed by Hal Needham for Warner Bros.Hooper3

Things to look up ( go to IMDB ):

  • Hal Needham
  • Hooper
  • Burt Reynolds
  • Warner Bros.
  • Buddy Joe Hooker
  • Jock Mahoney
  • AJ Bakunas
Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!
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